Furious Mountaineer Rally Falls Short

  • By John Antonik
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  • November 25, 2016 05:57 PM
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West Virginia nearly overcame a 20-point first half deficit, but the Mountaineers couldn’t make the critical plays down the stretch to pull out the victory.
Temple got late free throws free throws from Alani Moore III and Obi Enechionya to hold off 19th-ranked WVU 81-77 to win the NIT Season Tip-Off played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Temple knocked off 25th-ranked Florida State yesterday to reach this afternoon’s championship game.
It looked like the Owls might run away and hide with this one, Enechionya scoring 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half as Temple built a 45-25 halftime lead. But West Virginia (4-1) came out with much more energy at the start of the second half, trimmed Temple’s lead to eight, 60-52 with 11:51 to go, and then to three, 60-57, on an Esa Ahmad 3.
Another 3, this one by Daxter Miles Jr. from NBA range, pulled WVU to within two, 62-60, and Teyvon Myers tied the game at 62 on a driving layup.
Tarik Phillip gave West Virginia its first lead of the second half, 65-64, hitting the first of two free throws and Ahmad gave West Virginia a brief three-point advantage with a basket in close.
After Enechionya answered with a 3 - his first field goal of the second half - the Mountaineers turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions leading to four straight Temple free throws.
Quinton Rose and Myers traded field goals and then Daniel Dingle’s layup gave Temple a four-point lead with 3:09 to go. Ahmad scored inside and was fouled on the play but he couldn’t complete the traditional three-point play.
After Dingle got one of two to go down, Myers scored again to make it a one-point game. Here, Temple called timeout and Enenchionya got a good look from the left elbow, but his shot came up short.
Ahmad was unable to grab the rebound, Miles Jr. fouled Moore near midcourt and he knocked down both free throws with 14.1 seconds left.
Huggins used his final timeout between Moore’s free throw attempts to draw up a last-second play, but the best West Virginia could get to try and tie the game was a heavily contested step-in shot by Myers that was blocked from the wing.
Enenchionya was fouled on the rebound and made the game’s final point with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Temple won the game at the free throw line (21 of 24) and from behind the 3-point arc (10 of 19).
The Mountaineers once again struggled to make their free throws, missing seven today after failing to convert 13 in yesterday’s blowout win over Illinois.
Moore III contributed 18 and Dingle had 15 for the Owls, now 4-2.
Ahmad scored a career-high 19, Myers added 15 and Phillip contributed 13.
West Virginia shot much better in the second half, but finished the game hitting just 23-of-67 from the field for 43.3 percent.
The Mountaineers return to the Coliseum to face Manhattan on Monday evening. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised locally on ROOT SPORTS.

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